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‘House prices here are so astronomical they’re inhibiting life’

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Joe Caslin. Photo: Ruth Medjber

Joe Caslin. Photo: Ruth Medjber

Joe Caslin. Photo: Ruth Medjber

Joe Caslin is an Irish street artist and illustrator from Roscommon. His artwork highlights the social issues of modern Ireland with suicide, drug addiction and marriage equality amongst the topics he has tackled. Caslin has created a temporary mural which is central to the current Faoin Spéir Inside/Out project – where the town of Clonmel in Co Tipperary has been turned into an outdoor gallery. Caslin is also creating artworks for the Cork midsummer festival this June. Visit joecaslin.com for more information on the artist or southtippartscentre.ie for more information on Faoin Spéir’s Inside/Out project.

What’s the most important lesson about money that your career as an artist has taught you?

It’s hard to make a living as an artist. However, although I need money to survive, finances are secondary when it comes to art. If I can make an art work that helps us move on as a society, I’d consider that more of a success [than the money it makes].

What has the coronavirus crisis taught you about money?

My income as an artist nearly all but dried up when Covid first hit. In summer 2020 – which was the first summer of the pandemic – there was a great push towards supporting Irish artists online. So I sold a number of prints and that opened up more opportunities for me. Before Covid hit, I was a full-time teacher and then an artist. The pandemic gave me an opportunity to develop an online presence – and to build a sustainable income so that I could become a full-time artist.

What’s the best advice you ever got about money? 

I went to America when I was 17. I was worried about going and my mum and granddad said: “You’ve money in your pocket – and a tongue in your head and that’s all you need.” In other words, you should have enough money to make it work – and if not, you should still be able to make it work.

Do you still carry cash?

Very little – though I have an emergency €20 in my wallet.

What’s the most you’d pay for a bottle of wine?

€30 in a restaurant. I’m not a big drinker or a big wine drinker. If you put a margarita in front of me though, I’d eat your hand off!

What’s your favourite Irish coin?

The old 2p – with the interlaced Celtic motif of a bird. Or the old 50p with the bird on it. The old coins were great.

What’s the most expensive country you have ever visited?

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Japan – the cost of living is quite high over there so as a tourist it’s an expensive country to visit. Japan is stunning though and it is one of, if not the, best holidays I’ve ever been on.

Are you a spender or a saver?

I’m a careful spender and a good saver though I’m not good initiating savings – so if someone helps me to do that, I’m fine. My mum is a  saver and a few years ago she prompted me to set up a savings account.

Would you buy Irish  property now?

No absolutely not – I’ve some friends who want to begin a family and their plans are being completely inhibited by the housing market. I’m lucky enough to be in a position where I don’t have to buy into all that. House prices here are so astronomical that they’re inhibiting life.

If you won the EuroMillions, what would you do with the money?

A maths teacher once told me that 90pc of all Lottery winners go bankrupt. So if I won the EuroMillions I’d maybe give it to someone that was capable of dealing with it. I’d also give a good bit of it away and I’d make sure family were comfortable.

Do you ever haggle?

Always. As an artist, there’s always wiggle room when I put a price on a project and if haggling is done in a respectful way, I’ve no problem with it.

Three things you could not do without if tightening your belt?

Coffee. Internet access. Paper and pencils.


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